Foreign Minister Hor Namhong was one of the “intellectuals” held at the Boeung Trabek re-education centre during the Democratic Kampuchea regime, Saloth Ban, Pol Pot’s nephew, said in testimony yesterday at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
“Mr Hor Namhong was kept there,” the former secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, responding to questions about the specific names of people residing at that re-education centre.
Last year, anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks published an alleged US diplomatic cable from 2002 that stated “Hor Namhong came back to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge took over, but was not killed because he was a schoolmate of Ieng Sary. He became head of the Beng Trabek [sic] camp and he and his wife collaborated in the killing of many prisoners”.
Hor Namhong has consistently denied allegations he was head of the Boeung Trabek camp and has called such allegations defamatory.
According to the Case 002 indictment against the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary and Khieu Samphan, “conditions at Boeng Trabek were difficult” and “guards were more brutal than they had been at other locations”.
In spite of these facts, Saloth Ban said yesterday that residents appeared “happy” and “warmly welcomed” he and Khmer Rouge Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs Ieng Sary on the few times that they visited the centre.
Hor Namhong himself was summonsed as a witness by investigating judges at the tribunal in 2009 to provide statements as part of the Case 002 investigations, but did not respond to the summons.
Nuon Chea’s defence team last year filed a criminal complaint against Hor Namhong and other senior politicians, including the prime minister, for interfering with justice at the court, but their complaint was quashed.
Hor Namhong was one of many intellectuals that returned from abroad to Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime.
According to the indictment, intellectuals returned after either an invitation or order from Ieng Sary.
“Those people wanted to come back home,” Saloth Ban said.
“He [Ieng Sary] told those students that it was hard back home, but those students insisted that they wanted to come home,” he added.
As in previous days of testimony, on multiple occasions the former secretary-general failed to remember details that he had given during previous interviews with investigators.
The Trial Chamber and defence teams will take their turns at questioning Pol Pot’s nephew today.